So it’s Friday morning and we haven’t really slept and we get a very sweaty cab to meet Emilie at her hotel. (She was very happy to see us)
So Myanmar is very hot! And definitely less-western than Malaysia. Even though this was one of the biggest cities in the country, it was pretty dirty and chaotic. And we didn’t really know anything beside what our cab driver was saying so ended up just hailing cabs and pointing around like “pagoda!” cause there was a pagoda we wanted to go to and we had yet to realize that Myanmar is like 75% pagodas and the description is less than specific. Finally, someone understood we wanted to go to the big one and we ended up at this large Pagoda whose name starts with an ‘s’ and honestly I have yet to figure it out.
So we’re chilling in this huge pagoda place. And I offend everyone by taking sits under this really sacred tree and finally some Burmese guy is like…”yeah, you shouldn’t sit there”. And I would’ve felt worse if they weren’t so freaking nice about it! Like right off the bat we figure out the Burmese are like psyched for tourists. First thing, these young guys come over to chat and practice their english and we have a nice (if not slightly broken and misunderstood) conversation.
And people kept trying to show us and tell us things. This one guy pounces on us in this one area and starts to point out how this Buddha is special because it has “alive eyes”, but of course I don’t really know what he means so I’m kind of playing along like “yeah okay” when he goes “Do you see? Really? Explain to me how it’s alive” and I’m stuck….like “oh, just rounder right?” and I don’t think I understood to his satisfaction, but I like I smiled and giggled enough, which tends to pacify the foreigners. Typical.
Then a nice little Burmese boy tried to befriend me/get money from me? Probably.
This kid spoke literally no english, but we had like a solid pantomime conversation for 30 minutes. Of course, I was only even slightly sure what the kid was trying to say, but he did show me and Emilie how to pour water over the statue of the buddha.
Then we got adopted by a monk.
Turns out monks are just like normal people. Who knew?
His name was Ashnin? Or something like that? And he was like very excited to see us and then he took us to this shop to eat where the owner had like clearly never had to serve white people before and this was the smallest restaurant ever. Ash didn’t eat cause I guess monks fast and stuff and that’s probably why they are so goddamn skinny.
And then we went to like
Literally Giant Buddha
Feel free to use Lenny in the foreground for a size reference, folks. This was like statue of liberty size! And then this possibly crazy Burmese man came up to us and told us that he could tell us about our Myanmar signs. Actually, I missed the beginning of the conversation because I was searching for a bathroom (typical) and I had to walk a long way away and pay to use this special toilet that was marked for foreigners. I was like, no I don’t actually need a special toilet or something…whatever.
So this man told me that because I was born on a tuesday I am a lion and my stone is jade and other random things. Then he expected money from us. This was a thing in Myanmar…people were like very nice and would always try to come up and help you with things but then like sometimes they would expect money or you would be like “should I give them money“, but it’s just the budding tourism industry. Some people are going to abuse it, I guess.
This was the 2nd pagoda of the day, and then we went to one more, and at this point I am falling asleep. We’re sitting cross-legged on mats and Ashnin is explaining things to us and my eyes kept closing, but I mean could you blame me? At this point it was probably 36 hours since I had any solid sleep. Then we met another monk who was very modern and was carrying around a iPad and complaining about the wifi. Then he added me on Facebook. That is right folks, I am Facebook friends with a buddhist monk.
At this point we finally have to say goodbye, get some Chinese food for hungry Janet and then get our butts to the bus station.
We had booked a VIP bus and let me tell you, this thing was luxury! Only 3 seats per row (half empty) and each came with water, toothbrush, blanket and neck pillow. The only problem was that the road were so shitty! And a neck pillow can only do so much. So I ended up on the floor with like 3 blankets and the bus is just shaking and rocking and I’m not getting any sleep and to make it worse, all the rocking is making me feel like I am going to throw up!
We finally get to Bagan at 4AM and I feel like shit.